Flights Nice - Chania
Crete: why not head to...Chania?
Also known as Hania, Chania, Crete’s second city, is also the island’s most beautiful! Its Venetian port and small narrow streets will take you on a fabulous journey through history, whilst its beautiful beaches and waterfront restaurants invite you to relax in a heavenly setting.
In a unique setting of turquoise sea, lies a city steeped in history
With its breathtaking beauty, the old town of Chania is the starting point for your visit. Stroll through its narrow streets and admire the blend of Ottoman and Venetian architecture, which stands before your eyes. Enjoy a few Cretan specialities at the indoor market, a wonderful place filled with an array of colours and fragrances. Then, head down Chalidon Street, stop at Athinagora Square for its beautiful Orthodox cathedral, and then go up to the lighthouse, located at the entrance of the Venetian port. Completed in 1884 , this 26 metre high stone tower replaces the former lighthouse built in the 15th century by the Venetians . From the port, you can see the dome of the old Mosque of the Janissaries, the first ever mosque built by the Ottoman Turks in 1645, whose minaret was destroyed in 1920 during the annexation of Crete to Greece.
Other districts to discover include: the district of Topanas on the other side of the docks, for its typical narrow streets which invite you to stroll around and its Venetian style houses, or the district of Halepa, which is more traditional, but also a pleasure to visit.
Art and history lovers will find plenty of things to quench their thirst for knowledge. The Archaeological Museum offers you the chance to discover the remains of the Minoan civilisation in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, the Gothic Saint Francis church, which dates back to the 14th century. Opened in 1973, the Maritime Museum is a result of an initiative to promote and preserve Greece’s naval heritage. With regards to the Typography Museum, all will be revealed about the history of printing!
Last but not least, if you have the chance to get out of the city and explore other parts of the island, there are several excursions on offer. For example, you can go on a cruise up to Balos beach and enjoy the whole day in an absolutely heavenly setting. Or, if you prefer freshwater, Kournas Lake, which is surrounded by mountains, is a beautiful place for bathing!
Top 10 must-sees
- Old Town of Chania: Considered as one of the most beautiful of all countries, a visit to the old town of Chania is a must. Stroll through its narrow cobbled streets and amongst the many stalls selling traditional Greek products.
- Venetian Port: Built by the Venetians in the 14th century, the Venetian port is partially surrounded by ramparts on the seaward side. On the east side of the port, the Venetian naval yards from the 16th century were intended to house the Venetian galleys. The big naval yard is one of the port’s most recent developments. Its 2nd floor dates back to 1872 and was restored in 1999. Today, it houses the Mediterranean Architecture Centre.
- Archaeological Museum: Located in the old Agios Frangiskos basilica (Saint Francis), this museum houses jewellery, beautiful painted terracotta coffins, figures of bulls found in Tsiskiana, Cretan currencies, a mosaic from the Roman era as well as Minoan objects.
- Maritime Museum: Through the beautiful models, discover the historic evolution of the boat from the Minoan era through to the peak of the Byzantium era, the period of Ottoman occupancy, the Second World War as well as the post-war period. Don’t miss the museum’s main attraction: an accurate reproduction of a Minoan boat.
- Topanas District: On the other side of the Venetian port, discover the city’s historical centre and stroll through its narrow streets lined with old Venetian or Turkish houses.
- City centre indoor market: Built in 1911, this market is open almost all day up to the early evening. It’s the ideal place to discover the secrets of Cretan cuisine, such as: honey, herbs and spices, olive oils, etc. Also enjoy breakfast or dinner on the go in its small, cheap restaurants.
- Typography Museum: Those who love typography and the history of writing must ensure they visit this museum to learn all about the history of printing and understand how the machines work in detail. An enlightening visit!
- Mosque of the Janissaries: Near the Venetian port, this religious monument offers an unusual vision, with its dome shaped roof and its arches. Built by the Turks in 1645, it was severely damaged by the bombing during the Second World War.
- Kournas Lake: It’s the only freshwater lake in all of Crete. It’s fed by streams from the mountains and hills which surround it. A wonderful place for walking, swimming, riding a pedalo, etc. Here, you will also find traditional pottery shops.
- Cruise up to Balos beach: From Kissamos port, jump on a boat which takes you up to the beautiful Balos beach. But on the way, stop off at Gramvousa island, where you can visit the castle and enjoy the magnificent view.
From olives to almonds, all the flavours of the Mediterranean
In addition to the delicious Greek specialities that we already love to enjoy, Cretan cuisine has lots of other flavours for us to discover!
As a snack, Cretans love triangular puff pastries stuffed with cheese (tiropita), meat (creatopita) or spinach (spanakopita).
For more of a hearty meal, you have the choice of various meat specialities. You at least need to try souvlaki (meat skewers sprinkled with lemon) and keftedes (seasoned meatballs). But of course, seafood products also take centre stage in Crete: try octopus, which is often served with salad, without forgetting traditional kalamares (fried calamari).
And to finish on a sweet note, if melons, watermelons and sun-ripened grapes don't fully satisfy your tastebuds, you can give in and try loukoumades (doughnuts with sesame seeds and honey) and baklava (sweet pastries filled with honey, nuts and almonds).
March 25th: Greek Independence Day (1821-1830)
This famous festival marks the beginning of the Greek revolt towards Ottoman occupation, a revolt which lead to the creation of the Greek State.
April: Holy Week
Great believers, the Cretans attach great importance to this week of celebration, during which the museums and public authorities close. The two most important moments of the week include the Epitaphios Procession, which pays tribute to the shroud of Christ, and mass at the end of the week (Saturday evening), which celebrates Christ’s resurrection.
May 1st: Cretan National Holiday
Celebrated throughout Crete, this national holiday pays a warm tribute to the resistance fighters and martyrs of the Arkadi monastery, who were killed in action in 1866.
End of June: Week of the Sea
Every two years (even years), the Cretans celebrate their attachment to the sea by organising sailing and swimming competitions as well as concerts. This festival is largely celebrated in Chania and Sougia.
July: Cretan wine and diet festival in Rethymnon
This festival is the perfect opportunity to discover Cretan wines and to try local products and traditional Cretan dishes: open-air tasting in the city’s parks, all accompanied by concerts and traditional dance performances.
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